Freelance Journalist, Editor, Copywriter and Author – Dubai

On Being Grounded

After eight months on the road, we recently decided that we’ll be heading back to Cyprus soon. It’s a decision we had been mulling over for a month now, and one that we didn’t come to easily. In short, Ankit needs to be based somewhere long-term in order to build up his photography clientele base, while I’m working on a bit of a career overhaul – something I could do while on the road, but which I know will be better done when I have a desk covered in candles and books, a reliable WiFi connection, and less distractions.

It took me a long time to make peace with the decision, despite the fact that I know it’s what’s best for us right now. There were tears, there was doubt, and there was a lot of soul searching.

I’ve regularly made a joke of the fact that I like to run from things. I ran from home to university. I ran from Lincoln to Dubai. I ran from job to job whenever the position in question made me unhappy. I ran from Dubai in 2012, only to end up back there a few months later when I met the love of my life. When Ankit and I broke up for a couple of weeks a year later, I ran back to the UK again. And then we both decided to run from Dubai last year and travel for as long as we were enjoying it.

In short, I have never lived somewhere for longer than nine years (and even that was back when I was a child), and I’ve somehow always managed to ensure that I’m ‘free’ enough to be able to get up and go if I need to. Therefore it’s always been easy for me to change my setting if my situation wasn’t giving me what I needed.

I still have no doubt that sometimes moving away – whether that’s from a country or city – is the perfect way of starting afresh and bringing new opportunities into your life. Had I never moved from Lincoln to Dubai I would have died from boredom by now, and I also wouldn’t have enjoyed the epic life that I did for seven years. But I’m starting to realise that standing still is also okay, and that I need to get over my fear of being ‘grounded’ somewhere for longer than five minutes.

I always thought I’d end up back in Cyprus someday. I cannot quite imagine where else I’d want to settle down; England is out of the question (I cannot deal with the weather), the Dubai lifestyle and work culture don’t appeal to me anymore, and I have no idea where else I’d feel ‘at home.’ I once imagined that during my globetrotting I’d come across the magical city or town that ticked all the boxes, that I’d then find a job and just settle down there. The longer I travelled, though, the more I realised that every single place you come across has negatives and positives. There is no perfect place, so you have to find one that’s as perfect to you as it can be and make peace with its downsides.

When I first realised that it was time to settle somewhere, I freaked out. At first I thought, “yeah, I can do this,” but within a day I was full of anxiety. Could I really do this? Head somewhere with the intention of settling there for the foreseeable future, and, gasp – possibly forever?

In all honesty, I never thought I’d find someone who I’d want to ‘stand still’ with before I met Ankit. Someone who I’d be able to do all those things my friends back home do – buy a house, start a family and know that this was it – this was my life. But when I think about having all this with Ankit, I get ridiculously excited. It’s a whole new journey – one that may not involve foreign lands and a backpack, but one that involves many other things that are foreign to me: stability and security are just a couple that come to mind. I cannot imagine a better person to share all this with, and I’m so thankful to whatever is out there in the universe for bringing him into my life.

I also know, though, that I’ll always to a certain extent be a restless soul. Maybe it’s the writer in me that cries out for travel, maybe it’s simply my personality. I cannot rest knowing that there’s so much out there to see and experience. So I know that despite the fact I’ll be ‘grounding’ myself somewhere, that I have to ensure my life is still full of travel. With Europe on my doorstep, I’m sure that won’t be hard.

I spent most my life thinking that you cannot be happy unless you’re free to roam, but now I realise, you can have the best of both worlds. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing  – you can be settled but still enjoy the soul lifting joys of travel. And I’m finding myself increasingly craving a sense of stability – I want the nice little kitchen that I can brew coffee in in the morning and rustle up different dishes in. I want the veranda where I can sit in the evenings and read my books. I want a cozy little place that Ankit and I can paint, furnish, and build a life in.

So while I’m looking forward to flying backwards and forwards from the nest, for the first time in my life I’m actually more excited about actually building one.

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